In the last two years, the search for new videos of music that I love has become... well not much of a search at all. Your personalized home page has brought me to videos that have become regular, sometimes even daily listens. Live sessions from Anderson .Paak at the NPR Tiny Desk, Childish Gambino in the Triple J Studios, and FKJ & Masego in Red Bull Studios are my most watched videos in the last year, and you introduced me to all of them.
You’ve come a long way. You used to be a clunky database of unsorted videos and a search bar. And this required a lot from me. I needed background knowledge about what I was looking for before I could find a video. This meant seeing a video previously, something going viral, or having a friend tell me that I have to go watch a hilarious new clip. Simply, I would have to be introduced to a video by another person before I would even look at you.
Personalization changes everything.
It allows you to reach me directly. You fill the shoes of a friend who is eager to show me a new video, or a Facebook post that informs me of a trend by personalizing my experience. You eliminate the need for me to know exactly what I’m looking for. You show me. I now go to you to look at my suggestions in hopes of discovering videos that I love. YouTube has truly become mine.
Although my experience has been nothing but beneficial to me, I cannot say that everyone sees it the same way. Others feel that your recommendations are random and unreasonable but fail to see the method to your madness. You realize that people change and naturally seek discovery, and you risk potentially random recommendations for the ultimate goal: serendipity. That feeling when I fall in love with brand new videos that I would have never found without you. These kinds of recommendations blessed me and my music library with the addition of artists like Tom Misch, Matt Corby, FKJ, and Daniel Caesar. They have introduced me to the simplicity of producing a hip-hop track through Genius’s “Deconstructed”. They have opened my eyes to the incredible beauty of Kelly Slater's Wave Pool (even though I do not surf). After all, is it truly discovery if it’s not completely new to me?
You provide me with the tools I need to fulfill my natural human desire to explore every single day. You are the passage I need to find all of the talented artists that go without mainstream recognition. You allow me to learn more about the things that I love while also introducing me to entirely new topics that I learn to love. You make me feel as if I am actually discovering when it is really you that is doing all of the work for me.
Your recommendations now drive more than 70 percent of the time people spend with you and your watch time has increased by 50 percent in each of the last three years. The personalized home page has morphed you into a discovery scroll-feed, while autoplay and individualized playlists make it easy to stay with you for hours. Personalization has created the experience that I look forward to spending with you every day.
Thank you for what you have become. You were once a means to watching a video. You are now my discovery destination.